The transition from high school to college can be tough for anyone. When you’re a first-generation or low-income student, navigating this new chapter often comes with added complexities. That’s where the NYU student group First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) steps in. What’s more, it is a student-founded and student-led club. It offers first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students a space to build community, participate in professional development opportunities, and advocate for one another.
“It’s a welcoming space that prioritizes community and belonging,” says FLIP’s coleader Raadiya Shardow. Raadiya is a senior at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study concentrating in public policy and dissent. She identifies as a low-income student, and after learning about FLIP during her first semester at NYU, she joined right away. “From the start, there were so many shared experiences,” she says. “I learned a lot from upper-level students; tips like what to do when friends want to go to really expensive restaurants that you can’t afford. They’re small things that no one really talks about. But through FLIP, I found answers.”
Find Your Community
The FLIP executive board are students who are passionate about building community among fellow FGLI students. They host biweekly community events that offer a safe space for FGLI students to gather and learn from one another.
“When we plan events, we ask, ‘What did we need when we first got to NYU? What resources did we lack? And what are things we struggled with?’” explains Michelle Lucero. Michelle is FLIP’s community outreach manager and a Public Policy major in the College of Arts and Science (CAS). “No one really answered these questions for us. So we hold events that we think will be helpful for everyone.”
During midterms and finals, FLIP holds study breaks with snacks and games, creating space for students to unwind. Also, they explore the city together and host craft nights and mixers. Their goal is to help students build lasting friendships as they settle into life at NYU.
“If you’re a first-generation or low-income student, it’s nice to have a community where you can be supported by like-minded peers,” says sophomore Hillary Yoseph. Majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chemistry, Hillary is a first-generation student at CAS. “College is a really big transition for most people. So being surrounded by people who understand what it is to be first-generation or low-income really helps. It makes that transition a lot easier and is really great to be a part of.”
While FLIP is run entirely by students, the group leverages a myriad of resources available to them at NYU. Additionally, FLIP partners with other campus organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Native American and Indigenous Student Group, Proud to Be First, and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs. For example, last fall, they collaborated with the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development for a professional development workshop. The joint event focused on writing résumés and cover letters. This spring they will host a financial literacy event to help students navigate credit cards, credit scores, and budgeting.
“FLIP is passionate about making sure first-generation students have access to the resources they need to succeed at NYU,” says Freddy Barrera. Freddy is a Politics major at CAS and FLIP’s other coleader. “While FLIP is one of many organizations that works to help first-generation, low-income students, its student-led approach makes it a little bit different than the other groups. We’re for students, and we pride ourselves in that.”
Advocate for FGLI Students
In addition to their events, FLIP members focus on advocating for fellow students and making NYU a more equitable place. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, FLIP partnered with several offices to make study away more accessible for low-income students. Some key partners included the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation, Office of Global Programs, and Office of Financial Aid. Then, when the pandemic hit, FLIP helped establish technology grants and funds to ensure low-income students received aid. Currently, the group is working with the Division of Student Affairs to establish a FGLI-specific graduation ceremony.
“If you’re first-generation or low-income—both or neither—and you care about these issues, FLIP is definitely the club for you,” says Raadiya. “Not only do you get to be a part of a community, but you can advocate for issues specific to FLIP, like food insecurity. If there’s something you think NYU should be doing, this is the perfect place to do it.”
Interested in learning more about FLIP? Follow them on Instagram to discover more about their community and events.